This would be a terrific social history of a fascinating historical period even if it didn’t star some of the most important influences on today’s culture. But Andrew Weil remains a guru of alternative medicineand nutrition, and Huston Smith’s books on world religion are required reading at almost every college,while Timothy Leary and Ram Dass are icons of consciousness exploration through drugs and Easternreligions, respectively. So this energetic study of the time all four were together at Harvard tells muchabout today’s culture. Lattin’s quasifictional techniques (most notably, reconstructed dialog) bring to lifethe antics of trickster Leary, who once said that he’d turned seven million people on and only 100,000ever thanked him, and seeker Ram Dass (originally Richard Alpert), who helped bring awareness ofmeditation and other Indian religious techniques to the West. Smith, son of Christian missionaries inChina and early on a fellow traveler with Leary and Alpert, determined that drugs constituted but ashortcut to the religious ecstasy he sought, while Weil’s opposition was instrumental in ending Leary’sand Alpert’s tenures at Harvard (although he was himself experimenting with the same drugs). Somelaugh-aloud passages make this an entertaining read, but the underlying exploration of the socioculturalreasons for the extravaganza that was the 1960s merits attention, especially from those interested in theperiod.